The team at RRCHNM has worked hard on our project to bring Web Monetization to cultural heritage institutions such as galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM). The fundamental insight we have is that institutions want to be mission driven, not funder driven. But the mission of cultural heritage institutions is their audiences. So if Web Monetization can turn users into donors, that allows GLAM institutions to better serve their audiences.
We have had some success and some struggles with completing our two deliverables for the project.
The first deliverable was to create a module for the Omeka S platform. Omeka S is widely used by GLAM institutions as a content management system. One of the challenges was to do this in a way that fit the values of cultural heritage institutions, including free, open access to materials. We created the module on time and under budget (despite, you know, a global pandemic). Here is the module, which we promoted among the Omeka S user community.
The second deliverable was to enable Web Monetization on RRCHNM's many public facing websites. We did a lot of work to understand how best to do so, and had a plan in place to roll that out to our users. Unfortunately, we were unable to actually do so. The problem lay in the immaturity of financial services around digital wallets. The only viable provider of a digital wallet could not offer a wallet which could be legally owned by our state-sponsored institution, nor one which could provide adequate reporting to meet our financial regulations. This was despite truly herculean efforts by our college's director of finances and the university comptroller's office. The consequence was that we were unable to accept donations.
The Interledger team was understanding, and offered to allow us to submit a report instead detailing the landscape cultural heritage institutions face when considering Web Monetization.
Since our last report, we spent a fair bit of time waiting to see if the financial services industry could offer an account that met our needs. We also tried to better understand the landscape for cultural heritage institutions, through reading, research, and conversation. Finally, we wrote the report to submit to Interledger.
The Omeka S module continues to be available and will remain so. There are many, many cultural heritage institutions that have different financial regulations than ours.
RRCHNM will regrettably have to step out of the Web Monetization space for now. We will keep an eye on it, however, since as an institution we continue to find ways to allow our users to support us.
If you work in cultural heritage, please use our Omeka S module! And drop us a line to let us know how it works out for you.